Essential travel clothes for girls on the road

Essential travel clothes for girls on the road

Overpacking is travel suicide. Tote these versatile threads to leave room for souvenirs

That dream you have to see the world with nothing but a notepad, pencil and small cloth sack will probably never come true.

Let's face it, only the most ascetic of travelers can happily get robe-and-waterpot simple. But there are ways to make the most of a little when on a trip. 

Here's how to combine cute, comfy and functional in 10 packable items.


Angelina Jolie scarfEven Hollywood messiah Angelina Jolie comes prepared.

1. Pashmina

Superior to plain old knit scarves, pashminas have the power to turn a sloppy backpacker in a sundress into a respectable visitor.

You’d be surprised how big your pashmina opens up when it’s not around your neck. It's the perfect width for covering shoulders or heads when visiting mosques or temples in conservative countries like Pakistan or Malaysia.

Wound up in a fancy-ish restaurant? Wrap a pashmina around your chest or shoulders to smarten up that ratty tank top if you want decent service. 

Buy pashminas at or just go to any street market in the world and someone will try to sell you one.

plain white teeNo boyfriend? Wash the mustard stains out of dad's tee and you're set.

2. Boyfriend’s T-shirt

No, this isn't just for smelling because you miss him so much. A large T-shirt makes a great pillow case if you’re ever caught in a dodgy (or dirty) hostel that charges for linen.

Despite your efforts to be loyal, you might wind up in a co-ed dorm room and nothing says “Don’t watch me sleep” like a girl in a man’s shirt.

Cheap Monday Zahl V-Neck Solid Tee; US$35;

chiffon oxford shirtChiffon oversized button-up US$58. Sexy pout not included.

3. Oversized button-up Oxford shirt

Avoid buying this shirt in a wrinkly material like linen. If you’re daring, try chiffon because it dries quickly, doesn’t wrinkle easily and breathes well.

Worn with a belt, this works as a smart dress. Tucked in, it can make you look professional -- useful for that waitress gig you'll need if you run out of money.

Get it in white and it makes a great straitjacket get-up if you're unexpectedly invited to a costume party.

Oh, and it makes a great beach cover-up.

Chiffon oversized button-up; US$58;

thigh socksSexy, coquettish schoolgirl? Wrong. Thigh-warming jet setter.

4. Thigh socks

If you’re flying to a hot country, it’s a pain dragging around those pants you wore just for the air-conditioned plane. Especially since those itchy napkin-sized blankets aren’t doing your feet any favors.

So, save space and roll up a pair of purse-friendly thigh socks under your skirt or shorts to keep your legs warm.

If returning home with too much stuff, these act as huge elastics, so they are useful for tying on extras to your backpack -- or if you find yourself at a crime scene and need mittens.

Long Ribbed Angora Mix Sock; £10 (US$16);

cargo shortsPut some trash in your pockets to add some junk to your trunk.

5. Cargo shorts

There are two annoying things about sitting in a bar when traveling: worrying about where to put your purse so it won’t get stolen, and getting hit on by creepy men.

Cargo shorts are a two in one, because they don’t scream “look at me!” when you’re drinking at a bar, especially when you’ve stuffed your pockets full of passport, lipstick, gum, or whatever else we put in our purses, making your butt look like a Florence flask.

True Religion cropped shorts US$77;

monokiniPerfect if you're unexpectedly invited to star in a rap video.

6. Monokini

Less revealing than a bikini, and sexier than a onesie, these bathers are more than just swimwear.

During your travels you’ll likely have one big “clubbing night” to celebrate the end of your trip.

You’ll need a) something sexy and b) underwear.

Behold, the monokini. Throw on a pair of jeans and this swimsuit doubles as a cut-out clubbing top (and underwear) if you're out of clean clothes.

Cut-out ruffle monokini; US$68;

Bonus: Dozens of outfits can be made with the monokini --

Maxi dressPerfect if you're unexpectedly a bridesmaid at an Amish wedding.

7. Long "Maxi" skirts

If you didn’t bring a pashmina, take your maxi skirt out of your bag to fend off the completely unnecessary lobby air-con attacks. 

Essentially, these are just huge pieces of fabric. Maxi skirts are the breeziest things to wear to cover up in a church or mosque. 

Too hot? Hike this skirt up with a belt to make a summery tube dress. 

Caught in a hail storm on the beach? Maxi dresses make great tents. 

Stylestalker Floral Print Chiffon Skirt; £120.00 (US$200);

sarongThe more colorful the sarong, the better flag it makes when you're stranded on a desert island.

8. Sarongs

Fashion-wise, these are so-wrong. They even look ugly in jokes.

But these beach skirts are undoubtedly the most multifaceted travel attire. Cotton sarongs are great makeshift towels. Perfect for sitting on the beach or drying off.

Thin and expansive, these make great picnic blankets, and you can tie the corners to make a picnic basket.

Feeling frugal? If the hostel charges you for linen, use this giant tie-dyed hanky as your sheet.

Sarong; £280 (US$462);

Versatile dressClick image for more options.

9. Convertible dress

How many dates till he realizes it's the same dress?

This jersey bandeau dress can be worn 15 ways: halter, tube, strapless, one-shoulder and more. 

Jersey Bandeau dress; US$43;

wedged sandalsSensible shoes. Mom would be proud.

10. Walking wedged sandals

Instead of wasting space and packing stilettos for your big night out, invest in a pair of quality walking sandals with a wedge.

There's no argument, rubber-soled wedges are less stylish than heels. But people are more likely to notice your elongated legs than your less-than-sexy shoe choice. 

You'll also get more mileage out of the wedge for casual walking.

Hush Puppies sandals; £47.00 (US$76);


Jane Leung is a Hong Kong-born Canadian who has dabbled in the mixed media bag of film and television production, the professional sports industry and magazine publishing. 

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